A fringe Muslim group in West Bengal has demanded the removal of a statue of "Bangabandhu" Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh from a government hostel in Kolkata.
Terming the statue "unethical and anti-Islamic", the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation (ABMYF) has opposed the statue at the government run Baker hostel. The group says, the hostel is meant for Muslim students and since it has a mosque in its premises, such a statue could not be allowed in an "Islamic atmosphere".
The 110 year-old hostel, located in central Kolkata was home to the great leader between 1945 and 1946 when he was a student at the erstwhile Islamia college in Kolkata. In 1998, the then left front government in the state had converted his room on the third floor of the hostel into a memorial and alter a white marble statue of Bangabandhu was also installed.
"We are religious people. It is our free right to follow our religion as per the Indian Constitution . We cannot read Namaz and also install statues at the same place. It is defiling to our religion," claimed Md. Quamruzzaman, general secretary of the minority body.
"No Muslim institutions have statues inside them. Aligarh Muslim University was built by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan but his statue was never installed at the university," he argued.
MAMATA BANERJEE EMBARRASSED?
Ahead of Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India, the demand has embarrassed the Mamata Banerjee state administration as its sure to hurt sentiments on the other side of the border. In fact, the hardline Muslim group is known for its proximity to Trinamool leaders like Siddiqullah Choudhury and Idris Ali.
However, the fringe minority group remains unfazed with its demand and has even demonstrated outside the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata. "If it damages Bangladesh - India relationship in anyway, then Muslims won't be responsible for it. The onus lies solely with the government," says Md Quamruzzaman.
When asked about the controversy, the Bangladeshi Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata Zokey Ahad refused to speak on the matter. However, sources at the Commission claim that it is disturbed that Bangabandhu's name has being dragged in what it perceives to be a "political" controversy.